Bad Behavior In Health Care

From the Disputing Blog of Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes.

After hearing Dan O’Connell speak earlier this month, I found this on-line presentation by Dan titled, Bad behavior — preparing for and dealing with disruptive behavior by providers. Dan is a clinical psychologist who works as an educator, consultant, clinician, department chair and executive director in medical and behavioral health settings.

He suggests health care organizations develop a positive, proactive statement of expected physician behavior to address any behavioral concerns that arise and gives an example:

Members of the group behave as healers, leaders and partners. As healers they attend to the emotional as well as the technical needs of their patients. Patient needs are foremost in shaping their response in any situation. As leaders they positively work on solving problems and reject blaming, cynicism and divisiveness. Their behavior and attitude exemplifies maturity, respect, ethical sensitivity and self discipline. As partners they contribute to an attitude of collegiality, cooperation, civility and foster trust and transparency.

Dan references The Joint Commission code of conduct and recommends applying the code formally and informally by making “physician or nurse behavior discussable by any member of the group or staff by teaching and rewarding assertiveness and crucial conversations” and utilizing a “facilitator/intermediary much more readily” in resolving conflict. He suggests utilizing a “consistent and equitable reporting system” that applies to all staff and respects due process, as well as establishing a “progressive discipline approach” that is consistent with existing staff bylaws and labor agreements.

Read more about our posts on disruptive behavior in health care here. We welcome your comments.


Holly Hayes

Holly Hayes Bovio received a Masters in Health Administration (MHA) from Duke University and her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. She holds a certificate in mediation from Texas State.  Holly brings a strong hospital operations background to healthcare mediations including a focus on clinical quality.  Holly managed her own consulting… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


State of Maine 2014 Report on Foreclosure Mediation Program

In 2009 the Maine Legislature established the Foreclosure Diversion Program (“FDP”) in the Maine Judicial Branch. It affords a valuable opportunity for homeowners and lenders to consider mutually beneficial alternatives...

By Laura Pearlman

Interview with Jim Coben – Views from the Eye of the Storm

This is the complete interview by Robert Benjamin with Jim Coben, former long-time director of the Hamline University Conflict Resolution Program, filmed as part of's "The Mediators: Views from...

By James Coben

Smart Choices – A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions

Review by John Wade Published by: (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999) pp 244. Order at Amazon This article has been reproduced with permission of the Bond University Dispute Resolution...

By John Wade

Find a Mediator